Exploring the Talkeetna Mail Trail and the Intertie

Willow also boasts their East Gateway Trails.  These trails provide access from the Parks Highway to the Talkeetna Mountains.  The major north-south trails here are the Talkeetna Mail Trail (also called the Tank Trail) and the Intertie (a large powerline that goes between Anchorage and Fairbanks).  I had never been in this area ... so that was a good reason to check things out.  I ended up doing a 36 mile ski.  I skied out the Mail Trail about 14 miles  then came back and hooked over to the Intertie.  On the way back down the Intertie I hit a swarm of mushing trails (this area is a dog mushing mecca) and turned off too early for a scenic 5 miles of dead-ends.  It was cold this day, single digits, and I hope to go back when the snow gets faster and do a longer loop.

If you want to ski this area - go to Willow and then head up the Willow-Fishhook (Hatcher Pass) Road.  Take a left on Shirley Towne Road and park in the parking lot on your right BEFORE the single lane bridge over Willow Creek.  Ski, walk or run across the bridge and at the "T" in the road there should be a snowmobile trail going straight north.  This is the Mail Trail (Tank Trail).

Up in the Valley I stopped to talk to Wasilleeta.  We were once on a ski team together.  Wasilleeta could have been the best xc ski racer in the world, but she took a wrong turn.  Like many young girls that try listening to country music, she turned into a prostitute.  But I never give up on her.  I bring her heavy metal CDs and try to talk her off the street and back onto skis. The Talkeetna Mail Trail (or Tank Trail) is pretty narrow going through forest.  But now and then it runs through a swamp.  On this swamp I came across a buffed out dog trail.  And soon I saw the reason - rocket sprint sled dogs in training.  Wow - can those little guys run! Good trails the whole trip.
Following in the tracks of the world's best winter athletes - sled dogs. The Intertie, heading north. The Intertie, heading south.
Poles on the Intertie are numbered.  I went from number 33 south to number 6 (I think). But just before the turn east to get back to Shirley Towne Road I goofed up and got off on a mushing trail (see the "Y" in my route above). When I took this picture it was starting to get dark, I had forgotten my headlamp and I wasn't really sure where I was.  But that didn't matter.  My mind was on Wasilleeta.  Damn that country music ... it ruined her life !!!
Back to 2006 Skiing Photos Photos and web page by Tim Kelley